It is a common lament that there are few out-of-the-way pleasure pockets left on or, indeed, above the map, but a growing number of sports-minded Americans are flying in the face of the evidence. They realize that there are wide corridors beyond the congested commercial routes and anthill crowding of metropolitan airports. They journey in considerable freedom to hunt, fish and ski or simply lo get up in the air to feel the wind on their wings. They fly rich in jet aircraft, and they fly poor in planes that have known a succession of owners. From the emerald seascapes of the Bahamas to the powdery slopes of Sun Valley, Photographer Eric Schweikardt logged 55,000 miles to assemble the portfolio on these pages. Following it is an appraisal of the state of the air, private-plane sector.
The limpid Bahamian waters off Rose Island, near Nassau, are but a short hop from home for Miami's Rod Heitman, his Lake LA-4 Amphibian and some skin-diving friends. Heitman unloads scuba gear from the pusher-prop plane to begin a day's sport.
Airpark communities, where planes and cars travel side by side, are an ingenious new element in the getting-away-from-it-all game. At Cameron Park, near Sacramento, you can taxi down to the golf course or the airstrip and, if you are really with it, park the Piper at home. Developer Ray Henderson has his own planeport (bottom); he predicts that 125 residents will possess them by 1975, clearly a delight for flyers but maybe a headache for traffic cops.
High in British Columbia's Coast Mountains, Stanly and Marie Donogh float down to a poem of a lake and, breaking out rods, fish for the cutthroat trout teeming there. Stanly is a retired Seattle businessman who has flown for 35 years. He and Marie, once a licensed pilot herself, have explored a thousand lakes in the wilderness of Alaska and Canada. Headquarters for their trips is their 80-foot yacht "Shoreleave" (below). When they move on they hoist the Cessna astern on a rig Donogh devised.
Rising steeply from a 300-foot strip of grass, a Helio Courier lifts Bob Kimnach and his family above the congestion near their Massachusetts home and off to a Cape Cod fly-in for a shoreside clambake (Kimnach stands at extreme left). Such short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) planes are still rare and are much prized by bush pilots and by sportsmen who squeeze into mountain and jungle niches where conventional planes cannot go.
One of the most expensive ($44,000) planes of its size, the Helio Super Courier offers sophisticated instrumentation and engineering features that have given it an enviable safety record. It is the only STOL plane designed and manufactured in the U.S. Its unique wing construction makes it possible to maneuver at speeds as low as 31 mph. Cruising speed is about 165.
Skiing is a sport of myriad gadgets, the classiest of which these days are wings to get you to the good snow. At right, Boise Banker Spence Eccles flies his Beech Duke over Sun Valley's Baldy Mountain to have a look at the powder before landing at the ski area's Hailey Airport. Air-minded Sun Valley people like to get out and away to virgin slopes in the area. This they do by helicopter. Realtor Ted Teren flies a British-made Beagle (below and above right) on business and sports trips but hires a chopper when he wants to make new tracks. That's Ted at the helicopter door.
Cruising in over the beach at Daytona, Ed Culler and Bob Northington of Winston-Salem, N.C. approach a weekend at the stock car races. Flyers seem to have a special affinity for auto racing; they buzz into places like Daytona, Indianapolis and Sebring in remarkable numbers—and at Daytona have the convenience of an airport hard by the speedway. In the picture below the nose of the Bonanza points to the track's Turn 2. Sports fans are increasingly on the wing—in, out and home for dinner the same day.